The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, review: ‘A bizarre mix of inspiration and ineptitude’

Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Dormer in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Picture: Murray Close

Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Dormer in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Picture: Murray Close - Credit: Archant

This admirably political blockbuster frustrates through its uncertain stagger towards a conclusion, writes Michael Joyce.

The Hunger Games is the ugly duckling that never turned into a swan. The YA adaptation that became a blockbuster series might have been expected to have its rough edges smoothed down by the time it reached its final installment. Instead Mockingjay Part 2 remains defiantly but frustratingly odd; a bizarre mix of intelligence and stupidity, inspiration and ineptitude. In the prom night of blockbuster franchises it would be the Molly Ringwald, awkward and ungainly in a cheap dress that she made herself but winning through thanks to her spunky charm.

THG:MP2 is like the final season of an American TV series that used to be great but lost its way without ever getting completely Lost. It’s gotten a little too wrapped up inside itself to really communicate with the outside world. Most films that aim to generate something in the region of $1billion glide you along to a prearranged destination but Mockingjay 2 blunders about as it moves haltingly and uncertainly towards a climax that it doesn’t know if it feels happy with.

The script sets up its arcs, its conflicts and paths to resolution, and then chooses not to follow them. Expectations are subverted but it just means the storytelling is slow and frustrating; three times the film has heroine Katniss (Lawrence) waking up in hospital after an injury. Aside from one visually compelling sequence in the middle, the film is drab and plodding. Some sequences are so murky and overcast it is like watching a 2D movie through 3D glasses.

What is inspired about both the Mockingjay films is their political perception. In Hollywood narratives rebels are always right and evil must be beaten at all costs. In Hunger Games everybody is questionable: Katniss doesn’t even quite trust herself. In the first part of the third part, she was uneasily playing her part in the PR campaign for the rebels. Now, with victory in sight she wants revenge, but at what cost? Mockingjay is all about the cost. It is extraordinarily bleak – history is an unbreakable cycle of tyranny. Even the conclusion of the Katniss love triangle is decided by a war crime.


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Rating: 2/5 stars

For reviews of Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans and the re-issue of Tarantino’s True Romance go to halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com

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